Boss Adam Hinshelwood made three changes to the team that battled their way to three points at East Thurrock on Tuesday. Pat Webber came in for Cam Tutt, while Marvin Armstrong kept his place after coming off the bench at Rookery Hill, with Dajon Golding dropping back down to it. Luke Robinson was also recalled in place of Will Seager, leaving room for Ollie Starkey and Darren Budd to join the subs.
After a minute’s applause had rung out around The Crucial Environmental Stadium to mark Monday’s shock loss of The Man, The Myth, The Legend Kev Golds, a quiet opening was marked by Webber’s long ball picking out Robinson, whose neat reverse pass into the box led to Ollie Pearce crossing for Jasper Pattenden. Unfortunately, it was just too high for the nippy nineteen and the chance went begging.
Indeed, chances of any kind were proving hard to come by for either side, with half-an-hour passing before the next noteworthy opportunity arose, literally, when Pearce leapt to meet Aarran Racine’s right wing delivery, only to glance past the far post.
Less than a minute later, Jesse Starkey tried his luck from distance but he too dragged a low effort the wrong side of the back stick.
A much-needed break drew ever closer, although not without February’s Golden Gloves Winner Ben Bridle-Card becoming the first of the two goalkeepers to be forced into a save.
Skipper Racine floated a cross into Callum Kealy that ended up going up, in the air, via the boot of ‘gate Captain Ben Swift. Pattenden struck the ball as it dropped, first time but (the) BBC cancelled by turning aside for a corner, at the base of his near upright.
Other than that, the highlight of the first half had been the balance, skill and unerring accuracy with which one supporter had negotiated his way from the bar and up a flight of steps into the main stand carrying not one, not two, heck not even three but an impressive FOUR full pints of beer. An outstanding performance that failed to receive the recognition it deserved.
More of a concern however was Gary’s tannoy announcement of a fan’s ill-advised parking of their car on double yellow lines, with a Traffic Warden willing and waiting to pounce, ticket in hand.
Once the laughter had subsided and everybody could refresh their parched mouths at the interval, the second period saw a couple of changes at it’s start.
Golding and Reece Myles-Meekums were introduced for returnees Robinson and Webber and a tactical tweak also meant a slightly different approach.
In fact, the next forty-five had barely got underway before Joel Colbran’s long, raking pass picked out James Beresford. He soon switched from right foot to left to send over a delivery that the back-pedalling Bridle-Card did well to palm away for a flag-kick and prevent the ball sneaking in under his crossbar.
Similarly, Racine spread play from left to right for Pattenden to drill across the face of goal and out the other side.
A purposeful punt down the right flank resulted in Golding latching onto Pattenden’s range-finder, driving into the penalty area and supplying fellow half-time impactor Meeky. Reece then sold George Lamb – a late change during the pre-match warm-up for the unwell Harrison Hatfull – a delightful dummy; Bridle-Card blocking his route to goal and diverting the ball on an upward trajectory. When it returned to earth, Double M headed it across the six yard box to Pearce who directed his dome-powered attempt towards the target where it swam away on a sea of blue, leaving a relieved Bridle-Card to pounce on the loose result.
Margate’s first real sight of goal was ignited by Ben Greenhalgh nipping in front of Starkey to eventually tee-up teammate Vance Bola. His drive from the ‘d’ going harmlessly wide of Harrison Male’s left-hand post.
A fate that befell Armstrong not long after that, when a neat build-up concluded with an identical outcome.
Marv redeemed himself just shy of the hour mark by allowing Racine to send Beresford on his way to the top end of the pitch. JB subsequently setting up an assist by locating an unmarked Golding at the far stick, where he went airborne to spectacularly head home his first goal since late January.
He nearly had his second of the afternoon a few minutes further on, following Beresford getting the better of Greenhalgh on the byline, then travelling along it – avoiding the late challenge of Crossley Lema on the way – and pulling back for Dajon to be denied on the goalline by Sam Odaudu.
The visitor’s cause wasn’t helped when Golding prevented them taking quick a free-kick, leading to what, at first glance looked like a cute cuddle from Swift, only for the referee to spot something far more sinister in the “touching” clinch and show red to the man wearing the armband.
Proceedings soon got back underway and Pattenden featured twice in a short space of time; initially taking down Starkey’s high ball and beating his marker, Benas Vaivada with Golding doing likewise to Lamb, only to nod over the top. Then, swapping sides to cross to the back post where Racine bounced off his bonce but behind rather than in.
JP and DG, ably assisted by JB finally saw three points sealed with ninety nearly upon us.
Beresford drifted in off the left and gave Golding – who edged out James to claim The Man of the Match accolade – the green light to take over and calmly roll the ball down the inside-right channel for Pattenden to see his driven delivery glanced gracefully past a, for once helpless Bridle-Card. Ending a barren spell that had yielded a series of six blank matches for the Prem’s leading marksman.